What factors contribute to a person’s drug taking and the impact it has on them and their life experiences

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Illegal drug taking affects drug takers in a variety of different ways. Affecting the physical and psychological aspects of a person. It not only affects them physically and mentally but it affects the way they perceive the life and the way they are perceived in society. This can have an impact on the life of a drug takers, the choices they make and the people of which surround them. (Rutledge, 1997) The reasons why people use illegal drugs are similar to the reasons why people take part in other activities.

Tillman (1974) identified ‘leisure needs’ of people, most of which relate to the reasons for why people take illegal drugs. He suggested that as humans we have a need to; seek new experiences such as relaxation, adventure, escape and fantasy; recognition and identity; security and being free from pain; dominance, to direct others or control ones environment and to feel needed. Torkildsen (1992) suggested that the people of whom take drugs or abuse substances, whether legal or illegal, is a way to avoid unpleasant memories or overwhelming feelings of grief and anger.

The drug therefore acts as a coping mechanism for people to escape feelings of pain and distress. Rutledge (1997) identified no less than 8 factors which were seen as contributing to drug taking, including personality, society, peer pressure, genetics, family and pleasure. These4 can be split into two broad frameworks, these being individual influences (personality, genetics, etc) and environmental influences (peer pressure, family and pleasure). Anitei (2007) advocated in his study that there are several factors that push people to take illegal drugs.

These factors include delusion, depression, the lack of goal in somebody’s life, economical problems, unemployment and parents negative example. Those who find it difficult to relate to others socially are drawn to drug taking in order for them to face social situations. They believe that drugs make them more secure, funny, pleasant, sexy, clever and confident. Anitei (2007) also suggests that there are also people of whom take part in drugs because they consider it to be easier than taking control of their own lives.

He states also that once drug taking has become the norm in a person’s life, it can become increasingly difficult to break free. The deeper or further addicted to drugs a person becomes, the harder it becomes to break away. DeSimone (2002) suggested that illegal drug taking can affect a person physically, psychologically and socially. He states that the physical effects are the most important as drugs can seriously damage ones health, and even cause death. Drug abuse effects the nervous system, which can cause alterations in body movements, loss of appetite, depression and even causes mood to drastically change.

The psychological effect of drug taking can formulate relaxation, however it increases anxiety and paranoia. It also affects a persons self esteem. Although a drug taker believes to feel a sense of importance and self-worth when taking the drugs, however when the drug isn’t there to fulfil that need, the person then needs that drug in order for them to feel worthy again. The social aspect of a persons drug taking is also an issue in relation to the impact it can have on a persons life choices and social acceptance.

Excessive drug abuse can lead to unemployment and then forcing people into a life of crime. In order for a drug taker to continue to take drugs, they need to find money in order for them to afford to buy the drugs, inevitably resulting in theft and other crimes to support their drug taking. (Bean, 2004). Cadoret et al (1998) studied drug and alcohol abuse in relation to family background. Alcohol abuse, drug abuse and antisocial personality were correlated with biological and environmental factors.

Three etiologic relationships with drug abuse were found: drug abuse was highly correlated with antisocial personality, which in turn was predicted from antisocial biological background; a biological background of alcohol problems predicted increased drug and alcohol abuse for young adults in the family. Environmental factors of divorce and disturbance in the family were associated with increased drug abuse too. Drawing on cocaine as an example for determining the effects of drug abuse on behaviour we can formulate what a drug such as cocaine is able to do to a person and the effects of taking such a drug.

Cocaine is a widely used drug amongst drug abusers, and is thought of as a ‘psychomotor stimulant’ similar to amphetamines and cathinone (North, 1992). Cocaine effects are extremely detrimental on the body and the consequences related to cocaine effects can eventually lead to permanent damage, addiction and even death. With continued use, many cocaine addicts develop a higher tolerance for the drug over time. Addicts are also said to “chase the high”; meaning they continue to use cocaine to seek the feeling they felt the first time they used it. For people addicted to cocaine and the effects of cocaine, this high will never again be felt in the same way, and this addiction can lead to poor health and even death.

These studies suggest that illegal drugs affect not only an individual’s health, but it also has a huge ‘negative’ impact on their mental state, the environment that surrounds them and their social life. Aims The aim of this study is to gain an insight into why individuals take drugs and to look at the contributing factors. It will also seek to gain a clear understanding of the impact it has on them physically, mentally and socially in relation to their life and experiences. Method A sample of 3 individuals took part in this study.

Two of whom were continuous drug takers and 1 who was still a drug taker but is currently undergoing measures in order to overcome their habit. Purposive sampling was used in this study to gain a deeper understanding of the impact of drug taking on drug takers. It was felt that 3 people would provide varied and detailed accounts for the purpose of this study. Participants were asked to take part in an in depth interview, of which was semi structured. The interviews were carried out in the homes of the participants, which lasted for around 30 minutes for each participant. All interviews were recorded, with permission from the participants.

Participants were each given a debriefing sheet and a consent form of which they signed to agree to take part in the study before they took part in the interviews in acknowledgement that they fully understood what the study entailed. With complete confidentiality in mind, participants were asked to write their initials only; they were also instructed that they had the option to withdraw from the study at any time. In dealing with this sensitive topic, it was paramount that the researcher was fully informed of the types of issues that may or may not surface, so as to be prepared.

It was paramount that participants were on the agenda throughout the interview process, and that previous psychological stress was on the agenda; therefore questions were approached with extreme care and sensitivity, consistently showing support and non-judgement of the participant. Results In the analysis of the data gathered four main categories were identified and labelled: Ambition, Engaging Drugs, Dependency and Consequences. Ambition All individuals seek to achieve in life, however some are more unfortunate than other in that people don’t get to achieve them for various reasons.

From interviews it was apparent that individuals strived to fit in and to be ‘normal’. In that they wanted a job, house and prospects. They want respect from others and when these aspirations are unattainable, thus they seek to find them in other circles. I. e. people in the same position as they are. Conformity is a main issue in terms of ambition, as individuals it appeared, aspired to those of whom showed them the attention they were lacking from other areas. Engaging Drugs The reason for which individuals engage in drugs was found to have been the result of not being able to compete with ‘normal’ members of society.

Not being treated with respect, being looked down upon, unable to achieve the things in life that others are achieving. The outcome was that people engage in drugs in order to seek inclusion, to feel wanted within a certain setting. Peers pressure, lack of confidence, pleasure and to block out feelings of negative emotion. Dependency This was the reason for which drug takers continued to take drugs once they had started, in relation to withdrawal symptoms, routine and contentment the need to feel better within themselves and happier.

The drastic change of moods Consequences The impact of taking drugs was shown to lower self esteem, whilst giving people a false sense of confidence whilst taking the drug, however when their were no drugs to be taken the effect was that it lowered confidence even further. Lack of motivation became apparent as well as poor health. An impact that did occur was that another consequence to taking drugs was that of drug dependency. The need for more drugs lead drug takers to continue taking drugs and to continue the cycle of effects.

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